The Most Beautiful Monasteries in Bulgaria

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria | © Pixabay
Maria Angelova

Religion is an important part of Bulgaria’s national identity. If want to understand more of the country’s culture it’s monasteries are important part of your trip. Here is our guide to some of the most beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria.

1. Rila Monastery


Rila Monastery
© ignatov / pixabay
This UNESCO protected monastery is the biggest in Bulgaria and the closest to Sofia. It was established more than 1000 years ago by Saint Ivan from Rila, hence the name. Visit the monastery museum to marvel at the Rafail’s Cross, a wooden crucifix with 104 Bible scenes and 650 miniature figures carved in it to. The monk who created it, Rafail, used a magnifying glass to do his delicate work. The monastery offers simple accommodation for an overnight stay.

2. Troyan Monastery


Troyan Monastery
© Elena Chochkova/WikiCommons
The third biggest monastery in Bulgaria is nestled in the Stara Planina mountain close to the town of Troyan. It is approximately 400 years old but very well preserved. As it is situated in a region famous for its plum rakia production and it is no surprise that the monks from the monastery distil their own alcohol. There are rooms designated for tourists and pilgrims where you can spend the night.

3. Dryanovo Monastery


Dryanovo Monastery
© L.Payakoff/WikiCommons
This monastery in Northern Bulgaria was a place where revolutionaries secretly gathered in the 19th century to organize the Bulgarian liberation movement. View the amazing architecture and interior of the monastery, and then explore vicinity. Don’t miss the Bacho Kiro Cave (guided tours available) or the Path of Love (start at the entrance of the cave and follow the wooden signs up the hill for an amazing view).

4. Ivanovo Rock Monastery


Ivanovo Rock Monasteries
© Stoyan Chochkov/WikiCommons
This complex of rock hewn UNESCO protected churches, chapels, and monasteries will easily turn into one of the highlights of your trip to Bulgaria. They are situated near the city of Ruse (close to the Bulgarian-Romanian border). Inside some of the caves, you can still see well preserved Medieval frescoes drawn by the monks. The Ivanovo Rock Monastery is now a tourist site and there are no longer any practising monks.

5. Rozhen Monastery


Rozhen Monastery
© Rh/WikiCommons
Rozhen Monastery is tucked away among the mighty Melnik Pyramids (a large area of astonishing earth formations). It is just 4 miles (7 km) away from the smallest Bulgarian town Melnik, deep in the heart of Bulgarian wine production country. Expect marvelous landscapes, local wines and a feeling of deep serenity.

6. Glozhene Monastery


Glozhene Monastery
© Grozhen/WikiCommons
Glozhene Monastery is not among the biggest, the most visited or the oldest in Bulgaria. But it will win your heart with its splendid location, perched on top of a hill with a beautiful panorama. It is almost 700 years old and has some centuries old icons and frescoes.

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